Colloquium on Major Texts - East Asia

May 2021

Based on Professor Como's performance in Colloquium on Major Texts, I am confused by his silver nugget. While Colloquium on Major Texts is largely a student-led discussion class, Professor Como did only a sub-par job framing the issues found in the texts and guiding the students who ultimately led the discussion.

Nov 2019

Prof. Zhang is a very sweet and approachable woman. She is very knowledgable, open-minded, and welcomes everyone's ideas with a curious mind. I'd argue she is a fair grader and gives pretty good comments on theses and ideas. She's good at guiding a discussion when it needs to be guided. 10/10.

Apr 2014

Looking back at my time as an undergraduate at Columbia, Conrad Schirokauer was one of my favorite professors. While I was initially wary of his class (he is quite old and can sometimes be a little bit hard to follow), I am so glad that I stayed in his Asian Hum section. Schirokauer is both an excellent teacher and an absolutely wonderful person who cares a lot about each and every one of his students. I've had a lot of professors at Columbia who, like Schirokauer, possess an encyclopedic knowledge of their subject area. But I feel that few of them, however brilliant they are, can rival Schirokauer's passion for working with undergraduates. Schirokauer's love for teaching is genuine; he truly wants to get to know each of his pupils at a personal level. (He is retired and has quite a bit of time to spend on his students, so you should definitely take the opportunity to meet with him one-on-one.) Even though I took his class several years ago (and am not particularly interested in things EALAC), I still drop by Schirokauer's office occasionally to chat with him, and our conversations sometimes go on for hours. He is remarkably generous with his time and has been a terrific personal mentor for me during my time at Columbia.

Dec 2011

I loved this class. I found Schirokauer's Asian Hum section to be surprisingly engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep in mind Schirokauer's age: He's very old, and it causes him to stutter and speak slowly and deliberately, and he has a tendency to ramble and talk on and on and on. I guess if you're not interested in the course content or are sleep deprived, there's a risk of falling asleep in the class. However, that wasn't the case with my Asian Hum experience. Schirokauer has an encyclopedic knowledge of the course material, and while he's one of those old people who can talk on and on and on, he also tries very hard to stimulate class discussion and relate to the class on a personal level -- despite the age gap. In most cases, he's fairly good at it. Some of the discussion topics can be a little borderline wacky (e.g., If Dogen and Genji could somehow meet, what might they say to each other? Why should we/should we not make you compose poetry instead of taking a final exam?). Most people in the class are interested in the course material, and it allows for some interesting discussions throughout the semester. Plus, Schirokauer is very funny and has a sort of clumsy/cute old person demeanor that I found to be very endearing. ("Oh dear...when are they going to be coming out with the next genius phone?") Schirokauer genuinely cares about his students. For instance, on the first day of class, he gives out index cards and asks everyone to write down their name, year, interests, and major. It appears that he proceeds to memorize what everyone writes on their cards. For instance, if you indicated that you're studying history, he would, on occasion, call on you during class discussions, prefacing he wants to hear the perspective of a "history major." Schirokauer's dedication to his students also shows in how available he makes himself for his students. It's not necessarily uncommon that chats between Schirokauer and his students, transcending Q&A regarding the course material to chats about philosophy and life, to last on the order of hours; the professor genuinely wants to know his students. The Asian Hum reading list is a little daunting for a global core/intro EALAC class, and I was a little wary of it when I signed up for it. I have to admit that I didn't have time to read every single text assigned, and I think a lot of my classmates didn't either. However, before each class, Schirokauer poses discussion questions on Courseworks that you need to write a response to. Usually these questions become the foundation of the class discussion, and it gives you an idea of what (and what not) to focus on in the readings. If you're considering Asian Hum as a global core requirement, I highly recommend taking this class with CC. There are a lot of thematic parallels between the Asian Hum and CC reading lists, and Schirokauer, cognizant that a large chunk of the class has/is taking CC and Lit Hum, encourages broad thematic discussions on Asian Hum readings in tandem with various Core texts. It made for many really interesting discussions in class (e.g., Nietzsche and Neo-Confucianism, Augustine and Genji, Locke/Hobbes and Mencius/Xunzi).

Dec 2010

I would like to begin this review by saying: Do not take this class with Hori. And especially, if you are an EALAC major. The majority of the class was taught by the TA S. Kile, who was pretty good and knew her stuff. But she taught the entire Chinese portion, which is a good 80% of the semester. Make sure you participate actively in class. Talk as much as possible. And do the reading thoroughly. Which is expected from all the sections of this class, no matter who you take it with. But keep in mind that this is a classic course at Columbia, and many able, personable people teach it. The class has potential with the right instructor. Really my review of the course should be for the TA, but this is the best way to get a recent review out for Professor Hori and the class. Shop around before you register.

Jan 2009

BGO is new to Columbia, but her decades elsewhere - God knows where - seem to have given her a head start in the qualities - pedanticism, decrepitude, boredom, condescension and laissez-faire superiority when everyone seems to care as little as she does - required to teach this class. I didn't do ninety percent of the reading. Hardly anyone else did, either, but you had to participate - it was the main part of your grade - the result being that comments in class were alternately half-witted attempts to sound smart, or smart attempts to sound half-witted. The brutal irony of the entire ordeal was that BGO herself hardly participated. When a seminar stagnates, a teacher ought to intervene; when a seminar is stagnant for the better part of fifteen weeks, a teacher ought to re-evaluate her entire approach; BGO did neither, forging idiotically ahead into uncharted waters with her annoying and unsupportive TA in tow. This name probably came up because you were looking for some way to fulfill your major cultures requirement - or whatever the hell it's called today, Global Core or somesuch. If you must take this class, with its staggeringly thick array of boring books, take it with someone else, but be forewarned that there are much better ways of getting this stuff out of the way (Latin American Literature with MacAdam comes to mind) that don't make you want to reach for the gin and crossword puzzles for two hours once a week.